Accessibility in the air

With just about as many disabilities as there are people in this world, traveling by air can be tricky. From difficult to navigate check-in systems to narrow aisles and seats, disabled passengers have more to think about than the average traveler.

The Department of Transportation is looking for public input on revisions to the Air Carrier Access Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel.
Over the next two years some changes in airline websites and airport kiosks may help to smooth out some common travel kinks, small steps to more obstacle-free travel.

Marc Mauer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, told contributor Harriet Baskas that he is pleased with the initial reviews of the act and that air carriers are recognizing their faults when it comes to accessibility for all.

“We are pleased that the Department of Transportation has finally begun to address the issue of inaccessible Web sites and kiosks,” Mauer said.

If the plans are adopted, airlines will have up to two years to update or redesign their websites. While these updates and overhauls are taking place online, the DOT would keep in place “regulations requiring carriers to make any discounted Web-based fares and amenities available — at no extra charge — to travelers with disabilities who cannot use a carrier’s inaccessible website.”

As for kiosks, the DOT plans to use the Department of Justice’s model as an inspiration. Requiring Braille instructions, headphone jacks for verbal instruction and plenty of physical space around the machine, the new kiosks will provide more access to disabled individuals.

The Open Doors Organization, a group working to increase accessibility for travelers, said that 9.6 million disabled individuals take at least one airplane trip every two years. Over ten years, it is estimated that these proposed regulations will cut down on the number of assistance calls over inaccessible websites and will save airlines about $11.8 million.

All of this is great news for you frequent flyers, so here are some travel tips and tricks to help make your flight or journey a little bit easier.

1. Call ahead and try to be as specific as possible when it comes to describing your needs. Not everyone is as familiar with the “lingo” of disabilities as you may be, a little explanation will go a long way.
2. Take a doctor’s note and phone number, you never know when you may need it.
3. Avoid connecting flights, unless long flights make you uncomfortable. The more direct your trip is, the easier it will be.
4. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Allow two hours for domestic flights and three hours for international excursions.
5. Check in with your flight attendant before you land to make a plan.

Click here for more tips!

Also, make sure to check out these useful websites and resources when planning your next trip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *